Finding the best… dive-gaming APPs

APP REVIEW

Finding the best dive-gaming APPs

HENLEY SPIERS checks out 16 free or low-price digital offerings that could make (or mar) your festive downtime

with christmas nearing fast, we decided it was time for an app review on the light-hearted side, giving you the low-down on the best gaming apps for divers.

Appeared in DIVER December 2018

_Perhaps you have time to kill on a long-haul flight to some far-flung dive spot? Or children to keep entertained over the holidays?

Or maybe you just need some entertainment during a dull commute?

Whatever the case might be, here’s an essential list of gaming apps to keep you going through Christmas and beyond.

Defining what makes a gaming app for divers is a tricky proposition. Had I stuck strictly to scuba-diving games, I’m afraid you would have ended up with too many yawn-inducing titles.

As such, I’ve focused on finding the funnest games that have a marine theme. Games are usually in need of a villain, and it is with mixed emotions that I discovered what a big proportion of marine-based gaming apps construe sharks as murderous, man-eating monsters.

Of course, as divers we know sharks to be rather elusive and beautiful, and severely threatened by human impacts.

So I’m torn between not wanting to indulge in and propagate this image of sharks on the one hand, and not wishing to take myself too seriously on the other.

After all, these are only games, and despite playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto when growing up, my career in violent, organised crime never went any further than that!

There are a range of games here to suit different ages and tastes. Some of you will be rapidly addicted to Hungry Shark, while others will find it distasteful. I can understand both sides of the coin, and indeed those are not necessarily mutually exclusive statements.

There’s also a range of more educational titles on this list, so rest easy if that’s what you’re after.

Each app is scored out of 5, with 0 being dreadful and 5 outstanding. Depending on what you’re after, some criteria will be more important than others. For instance, if you’re looking for an educational game, you would value this score higher than would someone just looking for pure, mindless fun. The criteria are shown in the panel opposite:

SCORING THE APPS

Playability: Ideally, I’d like a game that is intuitive and easy too learn, but takes a long time to master. Are the controls smooth or glitchy? Is my gameplay constantly disrupted by ads?

Graphics: The quest for better graphics does not necessarily mean better games, but it can be a good indicator of quality. Does the game have groundbreaking imagery? Or graphics which wouldn’t have looked out of place on my Sega Megadrive?

Education: Does the game provide any educational value in terms of knowledge of diving, or marine life and habitats? Alternatively, does the style of gaming provide a bit of a mental work out?

Value: Quite simply, how good is the price considering what the game has to offer?

Scuba Duba

Free (opt in-app purchases) (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Mobile Gaming Studios
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: Arcade
  • Summary: You are Helmut and your mission is to collect pearls and avoid hazards as you dive deeper and deeper.
  • Playability: 4
  • Fun: 5
  • Graphics: 4
  • Education: 0
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: Simple and yet challenging, this game is a perfect time-killer that will rapidly get the whole family addicted!

Scuba Diving Deep

Sea Swimming

Free (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Soft Link Studios
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: Simulation
  • Summary: Simulate the experience of scuba-diving by swimming around a barren underwater environment. The only mission is to literally go through hoops.
  • Playability: 3
  • Fun: 1
  • Graphics: 3
  • Education: 1
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: This game is a terrible simulation of scuba-diving. There are zero fish or corals in the undersea environment and apparently the only purpose is to swim around and go through hoops – boring.

Scuba Diving Adventure

99p (opt in-app purchases) (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Donald Nelson
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: Adventure
  • Summary: Go for a simulated dive in some of the world’s hottest dive-spots, from the Red Sea to Galapagos. On the dive, watch your depth and air-gauge while swimming around in search of interesting marine life. Tap on the marine life to get more details.
  • Playability: 4
  • Fun: 4
  • Graphics: 3
  • Education: 4
  • Price: 4
  • Verdict: About the best of the dive-simulation apps, offering an opportunity to educate yourself about different marine animals. The abundance and type of marine species in each location isn’t very realistic, however. For instance, there are dolphins on every dive, and the Maldivian reef is full of blue sharks. The swimming function, with two fingers required, isn’t as smooth as I’d like, either.

Hungry Shark World –

The Meg Edition

Free (opt in-app purchases) (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Ubisoft
  • Suggested Age: 12+
  • Game Type: Action
  • Summary: Feed your shark! Play as a perpetually hungry shark, wandering the ocean in search of food, everything from fish to divers are on the menu!
  • Playability: 5
  • Fun: 5
  • Graphics: 5
  • Education: 0
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: It’s gory… and it gives sharks a bad name… and… I just can’t stop playing. Possibly the funnest game on the list – let out your inner rage through the hungry shark.

MyScuba Experience

Free (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: EON
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: Education
  • Summary: An edutainment app that allows you to observe and learn more about individual fish species in a 3D environment, including their taxonomy, distribution, and feeding habits.
  • Playability: 4
  • Fun: 2
  • Graphics: 4
  • Education: 4
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: This app has nice graphics and bags of educational potential. The problem is that there are only three fish species, so the fun and learning quickly run dry.

You Sunk: Submarine

Free (opt in-app purchases) (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Enixan Entertainment
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: Arcade
  • Summary: You are the captain of a submarine behind enemy lines. Your mission is to sink all battleships while avoiding enemy torpedoes.
  • Playability: 5
  • Fun: 5
  • Graphics: 1
  • Education: 0
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: Although the link to diving is tenuous (aiding in the creation of wrecks?!) and the graphics look like something from the 1980s, this game is easy to pick up but very hard to put down!

Seascapes:

Trito’s Adventure

Free (opt in-app purchases) (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Bluembo
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: Family
  • Summary: Help Trito, son of Poseidon, to save his family and the entire underwater kingdom from the Sea Witch. Solving a puzzle results in a reward that allows Trito to repopulate the reef.
  • Playability: 4
  • Fun: 4
  • Graphics: 4
  • Education: 3
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: Perfect for younger children, this is a puzzle-based game that will get them thinking.

Deepsea Farm

Free (opt in-app purchases) (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Mobile Gaming Studios
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: Adventure
  • Summary: Build an underwater farm with a humorous octopus for company.
  • Playability: 2
  • Fun: 3
  • Graphics: 4
  • Education: 3
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: I love the random character quotes – example: “So what if I can’t spell Armageddon? It’s not the end of the world.” However, once the tutorial was over I found myself lost in terms of how the game works.

Cute Mermaid Simulator

Free (opt app purchases) (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Tapinator
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: Simulation
  • Summary: Become a mermaid and perform lots of mundane tasks such as eating, sleeping and decorating your home.
  • Playability: 3
  • Fun: 2
  • Graphics: 2
  • Education: 0
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: The controls are sluggish, graphics basic, and you can’t interact with a lot of the items and life in the mermaid’s world. I thought life as a mermaid would be more fun than this…

Shark World –

Water Battle Game

Free (opt in-app purchases) (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Zia U
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: Strategy
  • Summary: In a twisted future reality, scientists cross-breed sharks with dinosaurs to create the ultimate marine gladiators. Build up your stable of sharks and earn money by putting them into battle against other sharks.
  • Playability: 4
  • Fun: 4
  • Graphics: 2
  • Education: 1
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: Surprisingly fun. I enjoyed having a battling stable of sharks, and some of the species names are real so there might be a smidgeon of educational quality in there somewhere.

EatMe.io –

Hungry Fish Attack!

Free (opt in-app purchases) (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Junglee Games
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: ActionSummary: An online, fishy battle royale, where you eat smaller fish to get bigger, and run away from larger predators. Earn rewards and grow your fish, picking anything from a piranha to a blue whale as your preferred avatar.
  • Playability: 2
  • Fun: 5
  • Graphics: 4
  • Education: 1
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: What a great concept, and lots of fun when you’re playing, but the fact that it requires an Internet connection and battles sometimes take forever to load are major hindrances.

Splash Ocean Sanctuary

Free (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Runaway
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: Puzzle
  • Summary: Following a storm, your mission as a juvenile turtle is to restore the reef to its former glory by creating a sanctuary in which you can raise and release fish of various species.
  • Playability: 5
  • Fun: 4
  • Graphics: 4
  • Education: 5
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: This game is free, easy to learn, fun, and has a strong conservation message for its users – give it to your children, immediately!

Oarfish & Deepsea Fish

Free (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Tomoko Shigetomi
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: Trivia
  • Summary: Grow your oarfish by catching squid and feeding it to him.
  • Playability: 4
  • Fun: 3
  • Graphics: 1
  • Education: 1
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: Ready to get weird? Give this game a go. The graphics are comically bad and the only indication that your oarfish is getting bigger on its squid diet is the size indicator at the top of the screen. And yet, there is something serene about watching your oarfish gracefully swim around… I’ll just catch a few more squid for the hungry fella. Did you know that oarfish are the longest bony fish in the world (up to 11m) –- neither did I, until this game piqued my interest.

Underwater Mermaid

Swimming Race

Free (or £3.99 for full version) (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Games Banner Network
  • Suggested Age: 9+
  • Game Type: Racing
  • Summary: You are a mermaid, racing other mermaids. There are two game modes, one a race around a track and the other a race to capture a set number of shells.
  • Playability: 3
  • Fun: 3
  • Graphics: 3
  • Education: 0
  • Price: 5
  • Verdict: A functional mermaid racing game that does what it says on the tin but not much more. I found it too easy to put down.

Underwater Explorer

Free (opt in-app purchases) (iOS)

  • Developer: UberZany Games
  • Suggested Age: 4+
  • Game Type: Adventure
  • Summary: Take control of a submarine in this old-school arcade game, navigating the ocean while accumulating treasure and avoiding deadly obstacles.
  • Playability: 3
  • Fun: 3
  • Graphics: 3
  • Education: 1
  • Price: 4
  • Verdict: A simple but surprisingly difficult game – perhaps I’m just too old for these things but I found it tricky getting very far before crashing my submarine. I suspect that you probably have to buy some of the in-app purchases in order to complete the levels.

Earth Atlantis

£4.99 (from developer) (iOS & Android)

  • Developer: Pixel Perfex
  • Suggested Age: 9+
  • Game Type: Action
  • Summary: It’s the end of the 21st century, and 96% of the Earth’s surface is under water. Things are bad. Even worse, there are dreadful sea monsters lurking, and your job is to hunt them down.
  • Playability: 5
  • Fun: 5
  • Graphics: 5
  • Education: 0
  • Price: 4
  • Verdict: The graphics are beautiful, designed to mimic the style of old navy maps, and the gameplay doesn’t disappoint either. Your craft manoeuvres smoothly, and I could spend hours hunting down the sea beasts. Things might be bad down there, but we end on a high!

Be Part of the Process

There are hundreds of marine themed apps out there and I hope this review will act as a shortcut to some of the most interesting.

I came across no apps that do a great job of mimicking the scuba-diving experience, but that’s not altogether surprising, and a pleasing reminder that what we divers do in real life is far better than anything that can be artificially created.

Sadly we cannot be under water at all times, so there is still space for other forms of entertainment, which is where these gaming apps can come in.

The good news is that most of them are free – just be very careful about some of the expensive in-app purchase options, particularly if it’s your children who are at the gaming wheel!

This is part of an ongoing series of app reviews, so if you have any dive-related app you’d recommend, or if you have developed one and are keen to let other divers know that it exists, email its name and purpose to the divEroffice at steve@divermag.co.uk – and we’ll give it due consideration.

By |2018-12-21T13:25:26+01:00December 30th, 2018|Features, Other Topics, Reviews|0 Comments